the worst part of mushroom hunting isn’t the poisioning

8 September, 2009

water and sun

I would post pictures of the fecund and varied mushrooms we’ve found, or maybe the painting I just finished, or perhaps some snap shots of the beautiful out-of-doors that has been so, well, beautiful, but,
but I am currently afraid of my camera.
Yesterday while bending over to brush some leaves off a pile of Boar’s Head Mushroom to take a better picture I managed to disturb a tick nest. Literally thousands of smaller-than-freckle sized ticks swarmed over my camera, up my hand, over my arm. Dropping everything I yelled for the closest friend- Jason- and DEMANDED he come over and help me tape off (tape is, incidentally, the only tool I have yet discovered that will removed teensy-tiny ticks less than a millimeter in circumference). It was probably one of the worst tick experiences I’ve had, and I’ve had an encapsulated tick head lodged in my neck since grade school, so believe me, I know when I speak of horrible tick experiences. There were so many, so quick- I left a quarter sitting in the middle of the mushroom where I had placed it for reference and ran for Jason, waving a roll of red duct tape at him. Covering my clothes, backpack, and skin in tape, we quickly realized the ticks were climbing up my legs faster than we could remove them and we made a run for the car. Eli, Jason and I stripped as far as we legally could the second we got to the parking lot. Amelia darted off to the pond, instantly sinking herself in the shoreline of mud. I had one leg up in a yoga position I previously only assumed dirty cats could accomplish while cars drove by, trying to appear like they weren’t staring, horrified by what surely looked like some kind of communal schizophrenic tantrum. On a single, 4 inch strip of tape I could count maybe 200 little ectoparasite bodies, their tiny little legs smashed against the adhesive. 30 minutes and an entire roll of tape later we climbed in the car, our jeans and shoes locked in the trunk. Every single time I managed to stop obsessively examining the same 6 freckles over and over and over I would find a new seed tick, slowly crawling towards my corners and warm places.
I may never go mushroom hunting again. Or touch my camera, which is sitting outside under the car port right now, with the shoes and jeans I don’t think I’ll ever be able to wear again.


8 Responses to “the worst part of mushroom hunting isn’t the poisioning”

  1. Jacob Says:

    That’s a terrifying image. It’s also weird because I’ve never seen ticks that small. The ones we have around here are bigger than ants and generally quite antisocial.

    I did have a nice night on a recent backpacking trip where I was finding them on my legs and having to flick them out into the darkness while trying to get some sleep. Not pleasant. I also found out that ticks don’t like me. They just use me to find a better meal. I wrote a post on my blog about being unloved even by ticks back in June or July, I think.

  2. Lil Says:

    Okay, I’m going to get all 50s housewife-ish and jump up on a chair screaming while avoiding the nasty mouse. *shudders* Ewwwwwww! I hate bugs. Loathe, despise, abominate, cannot abide by, get thee away from me satan, etc. I had serious heebie-jeebies complete with skin crawling action while reading this post. Have I mentioned I hate bugs? Okay, good. I’ll shut up now…

  3. Mwa Says:

    That read like it should have been fiction. That’s just a HORRIBLE thing to have happen to you. I had one tick this summer. ONE! And I was creeped out. I didn’t even know they had nests. I may never go outside in nature ever again.

  4. Lil Says:

    After recovering from my vicarious ewwww moment, I had to come back and say I hope you’re okay. What an awful experience and also potentially a health issue, right? I live in nearly coastal So Cal and don’t go into the mountains much so ticks aren’t much of an issue here but from what I understand, they carry diseases and other such health risks. Basically I’m hoping you’re emotionally and physically all right. 🙂

    • batspit Says:

      thanks for your concern! I’m just fine- except for a bunch of itchy spots. Part of the joy of my moist, verdant clime is the insatiable number of bugs. Every time I visit California I’m amazed that such a lovely climate doesn’t produce the insane amount of bugs as southern illinois does… As far as the diseases ticks carry, there’s some research being done to show there is far less incidence than is reported- what is diagnosed and treated as Lymes disease may actually be the result of other, less fatal diseases…

      none of the research has indicated how the hell we are to get rid of them, although I think decreasing the deer population would help enormously. This is probably the worst year yet in terms of the number of ticks- god how i hate them. (Almost as much as misquitos, which seem to like me even more than the ticks and fleas.) Hope your day is good and parasite free, and you aren’t now examining your skin for fear of creepy-crawlies!

  5. Jay Says:

    Fuck that. Just fuck that.

    Being a hairy guy, I would have gone crazy trying to find them all, as well as with the relentless tape ripping.

    • batspit Says:

      I had actually, through some miracle of coincidence, to shave the day before, and the guys with me didn’t get covered as bad as I did- lucky for them, because actively examining your upper thigh in public is usually not as accepted for men 😉

  6. smoothpebble Says:


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